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Famous Adoptees or Adopters

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Josephine Baker, African-American dancer and singer (1906–1975)


Although Baker gained fame as a performer, she devoted a significant part of her life to the civil-rights movement and fighting racism. In fact, she adopted 12 multiethnic orphans. She referred to her large family as the "Rainbow Tribe."

Born in St. Louis, Josephine Baker was a star in Paris for most of her adult life. She left her home in Missouri and began performing in her early teens. She appeared in the chorus lines of all-black revues on New York vaudeville stages, then traveled to Paris in 1925 as part of La Revue Negre. Her lithe body and frank sensuality, combined with her jovial clowning on stage, caused a sensation. She was so successful in Paris that she stayed and opened her own nightclub there, Chez Josephine. Source: Who2

Fun Fact: Baker bought a castle in the Bordeaux region of France where she lived with her children while they grew up.

Photo source: Rudolf Suroch

Next: George Washington Carver, American agricultural chemist (1864-1943)

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